- Final Crisis #2 of 7, by Grant Morrison & J.G. Jones (DC)
- Madame Xanadu #1, by Matt Wagner & Amy Reeder Hadley (DC/Vertigo)
- Hulk #4, by Jeph Loeb Ed McGuinness & Dexter Vines (Marvel)
- Fire and Brimstone #1 of 3 (?), by Richard Moore (Antarctic)
- The Clockwork Girl #4 of 4, by Sean O’Reilly, Kevin Hanna & Grant Bond (Arcana)
- B.P.R.D.: The Ectoplasmic Man, by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Ben Stenbeck (Dark Horse)
- Project Superpowers #4 of 6, by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger & Carlos Paul (Dynamite)
Final Crisis #2 is getting some great reviews in the blogosphere. Which just goes to show how much tastes differ, since two issues in I’m pretty well bored with the series. Certainly the book being grounded in Jack Kirby’s Fourth World characters doesn’t help, since as I’ve said before I’ve never found them interesting, and this story has all the hallmarks of yet another scheme by Darkseid.
This issue opens with a tedious sequence in Japan, which nearly put me to sleep during the montage on pages 2 and 3. The rest of the scene felt like a warmed-over scene from one of Warren Ellis’ Stormwatch issues, truly a scene where it felt like Morrison was phoning it in, yet other bloggers enjoyed the scene immensely. This is followed by a series of 1- or 2-page scenes: Terrible Turpin on the trail of some missing kids, a completely pointless triptich page with the JLA at the funeral of the comrade who was killed in issue #1, the villain Libra trying to persuade other villains to join him, and concocting his next scheme.
Then we get to the other extended sequence, in which the JLA, Green Lanterns and an Alpha Lantern investigate the death of the New God Orion, in which the murderer is suggested (using the clichéd “You think you know who it is but their face is obscured you you can’t be sure” mechanism), followed by an encounter between Batman and the apparent link to Darkseid which goes badly for Bats. This sequence would be the high point of the issue if the Darkseid element hadn’t intruded on it, making me lose interest all over again. This leads into another Turpin scene in which he ends up at the villains’ base, which ties the Darkseid threads together, and then a scene with the execution of Libra’s new scheme.
The final scene involves the Flashes (Jay Garrick and Wally West) investigating a clue in Orion’s murder, which leads into the issue’s big reveal and cliffhanger, although one that’s been well-known on the Web for weeks. Unfortunately the natural reaction to this for anyone who’s read many DC comics over the last 15 years is, “What, this again???” A big shrug is in order at this point, along with the thought that there are only 5 issues left, which might be 3 too many.
Final Crisis so far could be summed up as “big ideas writ small”; it’s Morrison taking his “big threats for big heroes” approach to writing JLA and shrinking them down, sucking the drama and excitement and fun out of them, and sprinkling them in small scenes to rob them of any remaining sense of wonder they might have. Artist J.G. Jones is quite good, but his strength are his character renderings, which are far more suitable for a character-and-dialogue-driven book, not a superhero “event” series, which makes the book have a subdued look to go along with its low-impact story.
I can’t figure out what DC Editorial or Grant Morrison were thinking in putting this together. It seems like the best-case scenario for Final Crisis is that the first two issues turn out to be largely superfluous and that the series heads off in some different, more exciting direction for the last 5 issues. But so far this series is making its predecessor Infinite Crisis look like a well-written, well-considered landmark event. It’s bad stuff.
|Madame Xanadu is the new Vertigo title, whose heroine is an obscure DC character. I picked it up mainly because Matt Wagner is writing it, and because the art by Amy Reeder Hadley looks pretty nifty. I’d expected it would cover some of her backstory but otherwise work with the character in the present day and move her story (whatever it is) forward. However, the whole issue concerns the character’s earliest origins, in which she’s a figure in the King Arthur stories. It’s not a bad story, and the art is quite nice, but these days stories focusing on looking backwards at a character’s past don’t really interest me (I skip Wagner’s Grendel stories featuring the Hunter Rose character for much the same reason). So if that’s all this series is going to be, I’m not going to stick with it for long.|
|Fire and Brimstone is the new series by Richard Moore, who I guess is taking a break from Boneyard. The premise is that there’s an angel-and-devil due who have been tasked with bringing back to hell a host of demons they inadvertently released into the world millennia ago. Basically, a supernatural odd couple. Moore’s art is spot-on as always, and he’s always a charming writer, but this first issue feels like fluff. Amusing, but lacking the weight of Boneyard or his earlier series, Far West. But maybe Moore will surprise me with the rest of the series.|
I was pretty enthusiastic about The Clockwork Girl when it started, but it ended up being much lighter than I’d expected. It focused far more on Huxley the “animal boy” than it did on Tesla the clockwork girl. The concluding issue of the mini-series features a clichéd life-threatening situation, a noble sacrifice, and an improbable reconciliation between the two main characters’ creators. It felt like a mid-grade Disney film, actually. I guess the book is really aimed at kids, and I can see that they might enjoy it, but it didn’t deliver much nuance for adult readers.
Really nice artwork by Grand Bond and Kevin Hanna, though.